Museum of Making Music Gallery One “Making the Instruments” Preview

Elizabeth Dale

NAMM’s Museum of Making Music is undergoing its largest renovation since it opened its doors in 1998. The transformation is currently underway, with the grand reopening scheduled for early 2021.

Upon entering the Museum of Making Music’s newly renovated space, visitors will make their way to Gallery One: “Making the Instruments,” which will explore the how and why of instrument making. Within the gallery, thematically organized displays are brought to life by instrument groupings accompanied by digital information stations containing stories, photographs, music clips, oral histories, and footage of the instrument making process.  Without giving too much away, these thematic families include:

The Needs of the Musician: Acoustic and electric guitars and basses are on display to explore the interaction between instrument makers and musicians. Guests will learn how this relationship drives the change of instruments over time as venues, tastes, and trends continually develop.

Cultural Movement: Accordions and mandolins are used to help visitors discover the impact of people bringing instruments with them as they move across the globe. Explore how makers and manufacturers construct instruments to serve as powerful reminders of home and identity, while others use instruments as a launchpad for something entirely new.

Waves of Popularity: Through the lens of banjos and ukuleles, visitors explore how instruments move in and out of the popular culture spotlight. This area covers how instruments can transform from virtually invisible to a must-have in the blink of an eye and how demand drives manufacturers to adapt their instruments.

Life at Home: Discover how life at home impacts the design of instruments through an investigation of the keyboard family. Visitors will learn how manufacturers modify the piano as the size of homes fluctuates and as the prominence of entertainment in the home changes.

Emerging Technology: Trace the incredible impact of technological advances such as the vacuum tube and microprocessor through the history of synthesizers and electronic instruments. Visitors will get a taste of how instrument makers find inspiration in technology and how new advances lead to more compact, more capable, and more affordable instruments.

Access to Music Making: Investigate how manufacturers utilize different and sometimes newly developed materials and construction techniques to develop new products. Visitors will see how the brass and woodwind family grows as manufacturers find new ways to bring instruments to more and more musicians of every skill level.

The Expanding Sonic Palette: Learn about how the family of percussion instruments has grown to accommodate an ever-expanding sonic palette. Through the stories of bass drum pedals, cymbals, and synthetic drumheads, explore how manufacturers enable musicians to play with more sounds, more reliably.

MoMM Gallery 1

:( Sorry! Your browser cannot play this video either because javascript is disabled or your browser is not HTML5 compatible. Try Chrome or Firefox.

Another addition to the new galleries is Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) stations. In Gallery One’s STEAM station, students learn fun and interesting facts about instrument making, with a focus on how the engineering of an instrument impacts the sound it produces.

A “Sit and Play” area featuring a variety of instruments echoing the gallery’s themes is also available for visitors to enjoy.

To discover more about the Museum of Making Music’s renovation project, visit